making the world better with “magic trash”

Occasionally, there’s a picture book that’s much more than a picture book. Something for kids and adults who really want to learn about the world. Something colorful, but also political, social, and ecological. Something with a strong message about the world today. This is one of those.

This book combines some powerful images and stories. A boy wants to be an artist, but first joins the army and works in a factory. A neighborhood struggles with poverty, thieves, politics, and the law. And in the end, art finally wins the day, and the Heidelberg project is created.

Regular prose combined with rhymic and poetic verse:

the young boy paints: “brush greens and blues / on wheels and shoes / slosh, slap, and splash magic trash”

the young adult watches his neighborhood fall apart: “Whoo! Spirits whirl. / New Troubles swirl. / Kick, burn, and hurl magic trash.”

the city tries to tear down his urban art projects: “Old houses talk. / Some neighbors squawk. / Crash, bash, and smash magic trash.”

the adult artist succeeds and completes a beautiful project: “Let rockets fly! / Boards tower high. / Bounce, jump, and dance, magic trash!”

Title: Magic Trash
Author: J.H. Shapiro
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Genre: Picture Book, Art, Politics, Poverty
Ages: 4 and up

This book would be great in classrooms and for families who aren’t afraid of a conversation around a story. Talking about what you can do to reduce or reuse your trash, and starting a recycled art project would be fun for anyone on a rainy day.

Do you have a picture book that you think shares a powerful message? Please share it!!

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